Waterside Farm receives honor
WATERSIDE — Ryan Carbaugh is living his dream.
“Ever since I was little, all I wanted to do was farm and drive a school bus,” said Carbaugh, 27, who runs Waterside Farm with his father, Gregg, the owner of Carbaugh Bus Co.
Waterside Farm was one of 10 Pennsylvania farms recently named a Dairy of Distinction.
Since 1983, the Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program has recognized the work of dairy owner-operators who have attractive, well-kept farms and promote a good dairy industry image.
Active dairy farms in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont are eligible to apply for the Dairy of Distinction award. Winning farms receive the special Dairy of Distinction roadside sign for their farmstead and undergo a yearly review to ensure that they maintain the high standards the award represents.
The program is designed to recognize “attractive and well kept” dairy farms.
“The judges are looking for things like barns and buildings recently painted and in good repair, a farm sign, fencing in good repair and attractive landscaping. Waterside Farm exhibited all of those criteria. In addition, all winning farms need to meet some basic milk quality standards,” said Brian Kelly, District 14 coordinator for the program.
“Pennsylvania dairy farms have set the bar high for quality in both appearance and output,” said state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding in a statement. “The farms we’re honoring represent the exemplary image of a farm that consumers trust and a farm that is owned and managed by someone who is a good neighbor, a good steward of land and resources, and an exemplary business.”
Ryan is the fourth generation of the family to be on this farm along Route 36. It was started by his great-grandfather in the days when farmers had cows, pigs and chickens. It was originally owned by New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc. and rented by the Carbaugh family.
In 1961, Ryan’s grandfather, Allen Carbaugh, purchased the property from New Enterprise Stone & Lime.
His father took over the farm in the early 2000s.
“He owns the property, and I own the cows,” Carbaugh said. “My dad took the farm to the next level. Dad did a lot of renovations to increase the size to 40 stalls for milking.”
Ryan, who has an associate degree from Penn State Altoona in business administration, and his father do most of the work on the 120 acres they own, plus 30 acres they rent from a neighbor.
Ryan’s wife, Mikayla, who has a bachelor’s degree in ag science from Penn State and is employed at the Farm Service Agency in Bedford, also helps on the farm.
Waterside Farm is a small dairy farm with a herd of 40 cows comprised of Holsteins, Jerseys and Brown Swiss.
“Daily we produce 2,000 pounds of milk. We average about 50 to 55 pounds per cow. Every farm is set up differently; you adjust to what you can do. We won’t break any records, but hopefully, we will be here for a while,” Carbaugh said.
Their milk is picked up every other day and trucked to Land O Lakes in Carlisle.
The Carbaughs also grow corn and hay on the farm to help feed the cows.
“If you grow enough grain, you don’t need to buy any. We have to buy a nutrient and protein mix to add to the grain, but we usually can raise enough to feed the animals,” Carbaugh said.
Waterside Farm also grows some sweet corn, which is quite popular.
“We are one of the farms that sell white sweet corn. People can’t wait until we have the white sweet corn,” Carbaugh said.
The low price paid to farmers for their milk is the biggest challenge facing dairy farmers today.
“With the price so low you can’t do much more than pay your bills. You can’t buy new equipment or make any real improvements. You are kind of stuck. Since 2015, the price of milk went from $25 to $15 a hundredweight. For October, it was $14.50. It is out of your control. You don’t spend money. You try to make only necessary improvements and put others on the back burner,” Carbaugh said.
Carbaugh said he expects the farm to remain small.
“I don’t plan on expanding the size of the herd. We’ve seen improvements with the heifers in terms of milk production. We want to keep the herd the same size, but produce more,” Carbaugh said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.